October 1, 2019
The University of Alabama is entering its eighth year of providing free flu shots at locations across campus to protect students, faculty and staff from the flu.
The UA flu shot campaign kicks off September 3 and continues through mid-November with vaccines provided – at no cost and with no health insurance required – at the UA Quad, University buildings and student residence halls.
The goal of the annual campaign, led by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, is to make getting flu shots as easy and convenient as possible, and to protect the University community.
“When enough people are vaccinated, it is more difficult for the flu virus to spread and that means everyone is less likely to get the flu,” said Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS and a family medicine physician. “The flu shot typically drastically lessens the flu-like symptoms and severity of illness for those that do go on to contract the flu.”
Making it difficult for the flu to spread by widespread vaccination is known as community immunity, or herd immunity. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when a sufficient portion of a population is vaccinated from an infectious disease like the flu, it makes the spread of the disease from person to person less likely. Even individuals not vaccinated, such as newborns, are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are high risk of serious complications from the flu including: children younger than age 5 but especially children younger than 2 years old, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum, people with certain chronic disease conditions and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
During the flu shot campaign, nurses from University Medical Center, which CCHS operates, the University’s Student Health Center and the Capstone College of Nursing will administer vaccines. WellBAMA is also a flu shot campaign partner.
While the flu vaccines are free and no insurance is required, students and employees will need to provide their campus-wide identification number, or CWID.
In addition to the campus flu shot stations, vaccinations will also be provided at UMC and its Faculty-Staff Clinic.
Spouses of employees can also receive the free flu vaccines at the campus flu shots sites or at the UMC Faculty-Staff Clinic. Children of employees with UA health insurance can receive flu vaccinations at UMC, and children of employees with non-UA health insurance can receive flu shots at the Faculty-Staff Clinic if their insurance has previously approved nurse practitioner coverage.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and serious consequences of flu infection can result in hospitalization and at times can even lead to death, according to the CDC. There are two main types of the flu virus, Types A and B, which are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year. Most experts believe flu viruses are spread by tiny droplets made when people with the flu cough or sneeze.
“The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year,” Friend said. “Protecting our community is important to the College of Community Health Sciences and University Medical Center and we are pleased to be involved in and to lead this important UA initiative every year.”